Siri, Apple‘s artificial intelligence technology, is always getting smarter with frequent updates. Here we look at some features of the virtual assistant that users may not know about, from controlling your home remotely to answering life’s big (and sometimes silly) questions.
Find your nearest COVID-19 vaccination site
On Tuesday, Apple announced an update to its Apple Maps software which can now show users a map of their nearest COVID-19 vaccination sites when Siri is asked “Where can I get a COVID vaccination?” Users can also find the sites using the search bar in Apple Maps and selecting COVID-19 Vaccines in the Find Nearby menu.
The data is drawn from VaccineFinder, a free online service from Boston Children’s Hospital which provides the latest vaccine availability for those eligible pharmacies and other providers across the country.
“The initial rollout includes more than 20,000 locations, with Apple adding more sites in the coming weeks,” Apple said.
Siri can also provide the latest guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) when asked: “How do I know if I have coronavirus?”
Advise where you can eat during the pandemic
In addition to finding vaccination sites, Siri can also “quickly identify outdoor dining options or provide a list of nearby restaurants offering takeout,” amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Apple said.
Apple Maps also displays “COVID-19 modules on the business place cards for more than 4,400 locations, allowing retailers to communicate COVID-19-related information to their customers, like special shopping hours,” it adds.
Anticipate your intentions
Working with the Shortcuts app, which lets users “create personal shortcuts with multiple steps from their favorite apps,” Siri can “intelligently predict just the right time and place to suggest actions” from an app.
Siri does this by using signals like location, time of day, and type of motion, such as walking, running or driving, according to Apple.
“For example, in an app that’s all about coffee, the most frequent action might be to order a cup of coffee, while less frequent actions might include buying coffee beans or locating a new coffee shop. In this example, the coffee app would share information about the order coffee action so that Siri can suggest a shortcut for this action when people usually want to do it, like weekday mornings.
“The app could also tell Siri about an action that people haven’t performed yet, but might be interested in—like ordering a new seasonal variation of their favorite coffee—so that Siri might suggest a shortcut for this action,” Apple explains.
People can get Siri to perform tasks and actions that an app supports even when the app isn’t running.
Visualize your lists
“With new visual lists in iOS 14, you can now display visual information when prompting the user to choose between a set of options. For example, when a user asks to add groceries to their cart, Siri can show a picture, price, and description for each item,” Apple says.
Book car rides and report their status
Users can book rides with Uber or Lyft even when the apps aren’t open using commands like “Get me home in an Uber” or “Get me a Lyft to…”
Siri can show users a list of available rides, initiate the booking of a ride as well as provide status updates for a booked ride.
Access your phone hands-free while driving
Apple’s CarPlay and Siri Eyes Free features (both available in select cars) allow users to get Siri to make calls, send text messages, play music or access other features from your phone while driving.
CarPlay “takes the things you want to do with your iPhone while driving and puts them on your car’s built-in display,” and users can ask Siri for what they want done.
With Siri Eyes Free, “use your voice to control features of your iPhone without looking at or touching iPhone,” Apple says.
“To summon Siri, press and hold the voice command button on your steering wheel until you hear the Siri tone, then make a request,” Apple notes.
Turn the car heater on
Drivers can also “change radio, climate control, and seat settings using Siri and the CarPlay system of their vehicles,” Apple says. Siri can also activate and save a driver’s settings as well as change the car’s defroster settings.
Honk the horn
Siri can honk the horn of your car and activate hazard lights as well as lock or unlock your car. It can also check other car-related information, such as the current fuel or power level.
Control your home remotely
Users can get Siri to perform various actions in their home, from turning lights on or off to adjusting the thermostat, “even when you’re not there,” according to Apple.
To be able to control your home using Siri, users will need to add a HomeKit accessory to the Home app. “Add accessories to the Home app, then organise them by room or zone to control different areas of your home with ease, just by tapping or by asking Siri,” Apple says.
Those who have a home hub set up, can “ask Siri to control your home while you’re away,” with tasks like “Lock the front door” or “Arm my security system.”
Pay your bills
Users can get Siri to pay bills and monitor the progress of transactions. Siri can also search for bills, request payments.
…or another person
Siri can make money transfers to another individual. For example, users could say “Send $100 to John for dinner last night using MyPayApp.”
Manage your messages
Siri can send new text messages as well as conduct a search through your existing messages.
“After a search, the user can ask Siri to read the returned messages and mark them as read,” Apple says.
…and your photos
Users can get Siri to do a search for certain photos or videos in your device or start playing a slideshow of photos.
For example, a user could say “Hey Siri, look for beach photos taken last summer in MyPhotosApp.”
…and your calendar
Siri can detect different events across all your apps and “create helpful suggestions to add them to Calendar” and create “reminders to check in with your app.”
“Event suggestions can also extract and surface content from emails and websites,” according to Apple.
“Siri learns locally on [your] device to maintain user privacy,” the company advises.
Make you laugh
Siri can tell you a joke or a phrase to try and make you laugh when you say “Tell me a joke.”
Siri’s responses will vary but some of them included “This one goes out to whoever invented the zero. Thanks for nothing,” and “Where do pencils come from? Pencil-vania.”
Solve trick math questions
When asked “What is zero divided by zero?” Siri replied: “Imagine that you have zero cookies and you split them evenly among zero friends, how many cookies does each person get? See, it doesn’t make sense and cookie monster is sad that there are no cookies, and your friends are sad because they don’t exist. Oh wow, this escalated quickly.”
Explain what Inception is about
Asked what Inception, the complex science fiction film directed by Christopher Nolan, is about, Siri replied: “Inception is about dreaming, about dreaming, about dreaming, about dreaming, about something or other. I fell asleep.”
Confirm its relationship status
Asked “Are you dating anyone?” Siri may reply: “I’m married to the idea of helping people.”
Asked if Siri has a boyfriend, it may say: “I’ve been told my artificial intelligence standards are too high.”
What about a girlfriend? “I’m not into terrestrial partnerships. I’m more of a free radical,” Siri says.
…and what it’s wearing
Asked what it’s wearing, Siri said: “In the cloud, no one knows what you’re wearing.”
Tell you what life is all about
Asked about the meaning of life and what it’s about, Siri may reply: “Nobody really knows, but I’d say anything that involves smiling is probably a good place to start.”
Asked if it could stop time, Siri says: “Time won’t let me.”
…and whether God exists
Asked whether God exists, Siri might say: “It’s all a mystery to me” and asked whether it believes in God, Siri could reply: “I’m not a person. I don’t have religion.”
…and which came first—the chicken or the egg?
Asked about this topic of much existential debate, Siri explained: “I checked their calendars. They both have the same birthdays. Some believe an ancient ‘proto-chicken’ laid an
egg containing a DNA mutation that resulted in a chicken hatching from said egg. Hope that helps.”
Suggest what to do if you’re lonely
Asked whether it gets lonely, Siri said: “I’m doing OK. If that’s how you’re feeling, let me know if you’d like some advice.”
Asked “what should I do if I’m feeling lonely?,” Siri said: “I’m sorry to hear that. It might help to reach out to someone you trust.”
…or feeling sad
When told “I’m feeling sad,” Siri replied: “I’m sorry to hear that. Sometimes, taking a quiet moment can help. You could try listening to your favorite music or doing some simple stretches.”
…or not feeling well
When told “I’m not feeling well,” Siri draws you a list of doctor’s offices near you, complete with hours of operation, the distance from your current location and address.